Box full of cash

How I earned $10,000 on Upwork

The other day I checked my email and realized I got a congratulations email from Upwork. “You earned your first $10,000 on Upwork!” I hadn’t even really been paying much attention to earnings so I was surprised.

Oh wow not bad. But it looks like I’ve been at for three years or so now.

These days I work full time and still do freelance on the side with Upwork and Fiverr to earn extra cash to invest. If you keep up at it, it starts to add up after a while.

So How Do You Do It?

The secret is you need to invest some time into building reviews and a reputation so new clients will feel comfortable taking the risk of hiring you. As such you can’t really expect to make much in the early stages. Note that it took me three years to get where I am.

How the Heck Do You Get Your First Client?

It can be very difficult getting those first clients so the secret to doing that is to provide an almost too good to be true offering at the lowest price you can go.

Some of my initial gigs involved cold calling through a list of potential sales customers for cheap. I worked hard and over-delivered to be sure I’d get good feedback.

It’s a bit of supply and demand to get that initial business. If you provide rock star service for dirt cheap, it’s very tempting for clients to want to hire you and see if you can deliver well for them. Everyone loves a discounted amazing service.

How many monitors does it take to freelance properly? Only you can decide.

So you do this for a while and as you build good feedback you can start to raise your prices and the complexity of projects you’ll work on.

I can understand why some might feel like working for the lowest wage possible in the beginning feels like a suckers bet but you should consider it as simply investing time into building your business.

Oh yeah…Upwork Takes Their Cut

To anyone interested in trying it, you probably have a question of how much Upwork charges to be a freelancer. They generally take 20% of your earnings.

I’m sure some might say this is horribly unfair. After all, you’re doing all the work so why should they get 20%?

20% is reasonable

I believe a 20% commission is reasonable. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. They brought you the business saving you a ton in advertising and all the financial risk that comes with an unsuccessful marketing campaign.
  2. They provide escrow service to help make sure you get paid and they have a feedback system to make sure you get good clients that will treat you fairly.
  3. They handle billing and time tracking or project tracking with their own system

Consider the risk involved in launching your own service. You could spend quite a bit on marketing your freelance services before securing a client. You risk nothing but your time by bidding for gigs on Upwork.

Where would you work if you can work anywhere? Here’s the scene in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam around District 3 if I recall.

I’ve heard horror stories of freelancers spending weeks on a project and delivering their services only to be left in limbo trying to chase down their pay. This is much less likely on Upwork if you choose a client with a good reputation.

You will also spend less time and effort tracking your hours and typing up invoices since Upwork does all this for you.

What’s your ideal place to freelance? I had to fire up the laptop in a Louisa coffee in Taiwan. A great place. Also, check out Cama coffee if you visit. Maybe a bit too close to Wuhan province these days. Stay safe Asia.

Why Are You Promoting Them?

You would think I’m getting paid making some affiliate dough promoting Upwork but as far as I know, they have no affiliate program. I’m just sharing tips because I think it would be helpful for people starring out and I’m all for more freelancers and trying to change the work environment to get us out of offices.